Defending Marathon Classic champ Beatriz Recari visits SylvaniaWritten by Sarah Ottney | Managing Editor | firstname.lastname@example.org
Defending Marathon Classic champion Beatriz Recari doesn’t hold a grudge against last year’s tournament crowd for favoring American Paula Creamer during their back-and-forth birdie battle for the win — but she wasn’t shy about using it for laughs during a recent visit to Sylvania.
The 27-year-old Spanish golfer visited Highland Meadows Golf Club in Sylvania on June 9, where she hosted a kids’ golf clinic and spoke at a media luncheon.
“I can’t express how special it is to be back here almost a year after I held that trophy,” Recari said. “I haven’t stopped smiling since I got in last night. It’s just so special.”
She’s hoping to notch back-to-back wins when she returns to Highland Meadows for this year’s tournament, set for July 17-20.
“It’s always great to be defending champion,” Recari said. “You never know what’s going to happen. You can only prepare your best, but I don’t think it’s pressure at all. I think if anything I’ve proven that I can master this golf course and I can do it again.”
During his introductory remarks, tournament director Judd Silverman recounted a conversation he and Recari had earlier that morning about a photo she found from last year’s tournament.
“[She said] ‘It was from the 18th green last year and I was like this (arm pumping) as the winning putt went in the hole and the bleachers were in the background — and not one person was clapping!’” Silverman recounted to laughter.
“True story!” Recari spoke up from her seat, to more laughter.
“I said, ‘That can’t be true,’” Silverman continued.
“Yes it is! I have a picture!” Recari interjected as the laughter continued.
Last year’s LPGA event came down to Recari and Creamer, a former tournament champion and crowd favorite. The two traded birdies until the last hole, when Recari came out on top, winning the tournament by one stroke.
Recari recalled sinking a putt at the 16th green moments after Creamer sank a shorter one.
“It was a long putt [and] it was something like ‘OHH-hhhh,’” Recari recalled to laughter, imitating the crowd’s surprised and what she felt to be a disappointed reaction. “[Like] we didn’t really expect this.”
But Recari laughs about it now, saying she understands fans in Spain would probably have given Creamer the same reaction if the roles had been reversed. She said her strategy was to tune out distractions and simply focus on playing her best.
“I had to be realistic. She’s American. She’s contending. Of course you know they are going to support her,” Recari said. “I didn’t want to think they were rooting against me — more that they were rooting for her. … I just tried to keep myself calm and do what I have to do and whoever plays better wins.”
The course at Highland Meadows plays to Recari’s strengths, she said.
“I’m not the longest driver … [and this course is] very tight so that definitely fits my game,” Recari said. “I’m just really accurate. So that’s why I think as soon as I came I felt very comfortable playing here.”
Recari admitted she hasn’t played well so far this season, but said she feels ready to compete.
“I haven’t been physically at my best. I’ve had some injuries going on and just a mix of factors that didn’t help,” Recari said. “All I care about is I’m healthy now and I’m on the right path and I can’t wait to play.
“Last year was a great battle. Obviously when you win, you have to play your best, but definitely last year was just a race to the end,” Recari said. “It was a great challenge and I can’t wait to defend my title in a month’s time.”
Earlier in the day, Recari hosted a hour-long golf clinic for a group of about a dozen area children.
“We thought this year we’d invite kids out who were interested in learning about the fundamentals of golf and let them hear it from her,” Silverman said. “We’ve very excited and we want to build on it next year.”
Recari, who started golfing when she was 9, answered questions about her stretching and warm-up routines, what she likes to eat before she competes and tips for driving and putting.
“I just loved it right away,” Recari said of golf. “It’s really great to have this as my office every day.”
Kelly Martin of Findlay brought her sons Kyan Martin, 7, and Liam Martin, 5, to the workshop. Kelly played golf for the University of Findlay and husband, Troy, is a former golf pro in Findlay and golf coach at Adrian College. Kelly said they didn’t push their sons into the sport, but both have been golfing since they were about 3.
“Your swing is great [but] this time actually give yourself time to set up,” Recari told Liam. “Do that and you’ll see how much further you hit.”
“She’s been giving a lot of great feedback about slowing down and setting up,” Kelly said. “I was hoping they’d get some pointers like that. For her to come out and spend the time with them — good for her and good for them.”
Cassidy Hench, 9, of Defiance attended the clinic with her brother Donevin Hench, 5. Cassidy said the best part was sinking a putt.
“I was excited — but nervous with everyone watching,” she said.
Sisters Alexis Leslie, 9, and Grace Leslie, 7, of Findlay were new to golf. Grace is a member of the Gliding Stars of Findlay, an ice skating group for individuals with disabilities and one of the tournament’s 2014 charities.
“Have you played before? No? Well, I’m going to teach you,” Recari told Alexis. “Left hand, right hand, good stance now. Bend your knees a little bit. Turn, turn.”
Alexis said her favorite parts were learning the names of the clubs and “just meeting [Recari].”
“It’s very important to pick a specific target. Because [if not] you don’t know if you’re hitting it well or not; you’re just hitting balls. You need to make sure you’re hitting with a purpose, you’re practicing with a purpose,” Recari told the kids.
“It was a great experience,” Recari said later. “It wasn’t a big group which made it easy. It was more personable. It was fun to hang around with kids, especially [who] just started playing golf and they are so young and open-minded. They just swing the golf club and they are fearless. It’s fun to try to help them and give them a tip here and there and just make them enjoy playing golf.”
During her visit, Recari also visited “Beatriz Recari Drive,” the portion of Sylvania’s Monroe Street re-named after the winner of the Marathon Classic each year. She was excited, as all past champions have been, to get her photo taken with the sign, Silverman said.
“It was pretty neat. That’s a pretty good bonus to get when you win this tournament,” Recari said.
New this year
This year’s Marathon Classic, presented by Owens Corning and Owens-Illinois, will take place July 14-20. In an effort to appeal to as wide an audience as possible, organizers announced some new additions to this year’s tournament.
All active duty police officers, firefighters and military members will be admitted free along with one guest.
“That’s what this tournament is all about, is giving back,” Silverman said. “Not only do we raise funds for charity, but to be able to allow active service people into the tournament is just another way to help the community and provide an opportunity for people to come out and enjoy the greatest women golfers in the world.”
Several local active military members will be recognized July 20 on the 18th green. The hole’s pin flag will have a patriotic theme and will be held by a different military member during each group playing the hole.
“It’s going to be a pretty neat thing,” said Director of Marketing Jim Decker. “We’re really excited to give recognition to those who serve us throughout their careers.”
Guests will also find daily activities for kids at this year’s event, Decker said. A schedule is still being finalized, but planned activities will include a scavenger hunt, mascot day, face painting and more, he said.
Another new addition will be the Labatt Blue Royale Party Deck at the 14th green. For a daily $50 ticket upgrade, guests will have access to a VIP area, drinks and snacks, Decker said. On Friday, the hole transforms into Club 14, featuring caddie races, crowd banter, cheering and more.
“They get a kick out of it,” Silverman said of Club 14. “Players appreciate when people are enthusiastic about being out here, as long as it’s done tastefully. They love it. They love the attention. They appreciate it.”
NASCAR legend Richard Petty will be on hand to sign autographs July 17.